I’ve Listened to These Recently…

…during long drives with the hound, sleepless nights, and days in my parking lot, drinking Texas beer and pissing off the neighbors.


1349

Demonoir

Quick on the heels of last year’s freaky/disappointing Revelations of the Black Flame, 1349 got their shit together and released an album that was neither hyped nor even covered by any of the publications I read. As long as I’ve been into Norwegian black metal, I have to put these dudes near the top; Frost’s drumming (along with his work in Satyricon) remains some of my favorite, and the general cacophony is always unsettling and generally wonderful. On top of that they were my first Norwegian black metal show I had the honor to witness.

From the get-go, these boys, er, men, draw in the spirit of Odin in all of its wrath and spit with perfection. Play “When I was Flesh” on your headphones and feel the pressure in your eyeballs grow and your sinuses clog with demons. Oh. My. Lord. 1349 is back, and better than 2005’s Hellfire. Dare I say? Yes. I do.

Now, what comes into question is the magnetism of such violent music. Well, there is a certain demographic that is drawn to such sounds, myself included. No, it is not a thirst for blood or a eradication of a race, but merely the quintessential aural representation of what we feel is wrong with the world and what the fans would do if it was moral and legal. Yes, it’s gory and over the top, but what about war? That’s real. This is only music. Pure music. And that is all.

Claws

Absorbed in the Nethervoid

Claws is Lasse from the forgotten country of Finland. As he has not been always by himself, his past and other projects have included Vacant Coffin, Acid Witch, Phlegethon, Shrouded, Sarnath, Hooded Menace (which will be reviewed at a later time here), Coffins of Cyst, S.P.F., Amok, Moral Decadence, and Swarming. Maybe he hops around because he’s ADD or maybe he is just hard to work with. Lord knows metal dudes aren’t the the most commodious.

What is really surprising about Claws is that this is a one man death metal band. I have yet to come across one. Most one man metal bands, as you may, or may not, know are black metal. The supposed simplicity of atmospheric black metal, and the nature of the genre, makes it an obvious choice to one lonely dude recording shit in his bunker. This is technical, extravagant, and tight; instant comparisons include Bloodbath, Death Breath, and classic Cannibal Corpse.

“Macabre Manifestations” backs up everything I just said with minute breakdowns, acute strumming and drumming, and ridiculous talent all around. Melodic in its temperament and brutal in its execution, this is the microcosm of everything I’ve expressed about this record.

Lasse, if you were American then I would vote for you for President. You can obviously do everything.No offense, Obama. I love you, too.

Jets to Brazil

Four Cornered Room

No, this is not new. I know. There are times in your life when you have to revisit things of the past. During the late 90s, I was into this band. Why? I don’t know. I was never into Jawbreaker. I was into the early emo stuff, though (Promise Ring, Sweden’s Fireside, among countless others) due to the fact that I lived in a house in Bloomington, Indiana that hosted many, many shows a week and it was primarily these types that came through. And I was the right age in the right part of the country, the Midwest. What prompted my revisiting, I don’t know, but I now know that this is the only band that stood the test of time. Four Cornered Room was their sophomore album, after 1998’s Orange Rhyming Dictionary. While this was released in 2000, the sound is all 90s.

What is at the forefront is the lyrics, some of the best, and worst, I’ve ever heard. “Air Traffic Control” is, plainly, a well-written song. “Look at these passengers/If there’s babies I’ll survive,” evokes the sense of safety through nonchalance things. Comfort where there actually isn’t any. Another line, “If I forgot to say/I love you everyday/Know I’ve been keeping track/In my quiet way,” is just cute, through and through.

The worst comes with the closing track, “All Things Good and Nice”. “I love my mother/For all the things she’s not/But mostly for who she is”. The sentiment is great, don’t get me wrong. I do love my mother for exactly the same things. Who wants to hear a Hallmark card, though? Reading them is painful enough.

As it may be hit-and-miss, the album as a whole is solid, thought-out, and memorable. I listened to it for the first time since the early 00s and still remembered most of the lyrics. The cars in the adjacent lanes can attest to this as I shrieked along with “Your X-rays Have Just Come Back…”.

Harvey Milk

A Turn of Human Kindness

Harvey Milk are an entity not heard at any other time in recorded music.

This is mud put to tape. Complete and utter sadness; morose in its delivery, but at the same time very striking. Sharpened sludge. It is always a slow build, the payoff being headbang-worthy, but nevertheless patient and persistent in its unabashed looking-at-yourself-in-the-mirror-and-screaming loneliness.

After 2008’s highly acclaimed Life…the Best Game in Town, the Milk could really go anywhere. And they did. They slowed it even more, as a whole, and added adult questions like, “What kind of father/Will I be?” The answer is, probably pretty good. You, Mr. Milk (aka Creston Spiers), have a knack for paying attention to the details, caressing each riff as if you birthed the chords themselves, and making every microphone feel special with the attention you give it.

There is no one song to pick out as a favorite, as they all run together in a less-gay A Night at the Opera and more like The Wall on cough syrup. This is southern rock at its molten core; not music to listen to in your Camaro, but to put on as you push your Camaro off a cliff.

Watain

Reaping Death 7″

I will stand by this statement: Watain are the best black metal band performing today. Hands down. 2006’s Sworn to the Dark blew my mind, and still does to this day. I have been waiting for the new material for quite a while, as you can read, and was dumbfounded by these two tracks, off their upcoming Lawless Darkness.

Pure blasphemy, as black metal should be. (I will not get into the beliefs behind this band, however, due to the fact that it is not what I believe at all. Same goes for Christianity. I will talk about my beliefs face to face, though. This is just about the music.)

“Higher/Higher/Come on you sons of fire” is the perfect lyric to emblazon Watain on any medallion worn by any of these fuckers.

The full length is definitely gonna rule the world of metal for a while, if not be a comparison to everything that comes after. As sick and twisted as they are, it is this that is half the draw; it is this that fuels their music of hate and debauchery, whether or not one agrees, follows…you can’t deny the mastery of the genre.

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  1. […] hinted at in the last post (sorry for the long delay) I knew this record was going to be something fantastic. After all, a […]



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